ALUMNI PROFILE Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray (MSW/JD ’13, MS ’18)
Dedicated to public service
Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray (MSW/JD '13, MS '18) brings a client-driven approach to her work
Each year, Loyola University Chicago School of Law recognizes outstanding alumni for their accomplishments and service. The 2021 Public Service Merit Award is awarded to Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray (MSW/JD ’13, MS ’18).
Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray (MSW/JD ’13, MS ’18) knew at age 5 that she wanted to go to law school. Her rich educational journey extends far beyond her dual Loyola degree in law and social work: She also holds a Loyola MS degree in software engineering and, feeding her growing interest in policy, is pursuing a PhD in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The threads of her wide-ranging education combine to inform Walker-Neal-Murray’s work as cofounder and executive director of Chicago Advocate Legal. This nonprofit firm offers legal services on a sliding scale to help close the gap for clients who don’t qualify for legal aid but cannot afford typical attorneys’ fees. Walker-Neal-Murray manages 28 to 38 cases month, mostly in family, child, and probate law, and frequently hires Loyola students as externs.
“Loyola opened its doors to me, [and] my professors worked hard to develop my confidence.”
“Loyola opened its doors to me and gave me a little bit of money to help along the way,” she says of her time at the law school. “I was pretty shy then, and my professors worked hard to develop my confidence. I became not just the lawyer, but the person, I hoped to be. So now I try to help other students.”
“Chlece brings a holistic and client-driven approach to every aspect of her work,” says nominator Katherine Kaufka Walts, director of Loyola’s Center for the Human Rights of Children, where Walker-Neal-Murray works as a research assistant on child trafficking issues. “She has profound sensitivity to how the process, systems, and language of the law interact with the people—often at the margins—she serves. She’s deeply committed to social justice and is living out the mission of Loyola.”
Walker-Neal-Murray is also a Loyola adjunct professor, teaching a course on U.S. legal systems in the MJ in Children’s Law and Policy program. After she completes her doctorate, she hopes to reduce her practice hours and focus on ways that specialty courts or diversion programs might more effectively address socioeconomic challenges affecting individuals in family court.
She says she felt “surprised, grateful, and validated” when she learned she’d been selected for the Public Service Merit Award. “When you strike out and do something new that may go against the grain of how things have been done in the legal world, it helps to know that not only is your work having an impact on clients, but also that others in the legal community are encouraging it,” she says. “Loyola’s always been very supportive of the things I’ve done.”